Best Taylor Swift album

Albumism Staff

Taylor Swift. Everyone knows who she is. It is no secret that Taylor is a talented musician, with albums spreading across three genres: country, pop, and alternative/indie. She has won awards in each of these respective genres, showing how flexible she is with her music. But of her nine studio albums: Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Speak Now, Red (Taylor’s Version), 1989, reputation, Lover, folklore, and evermore, which one is the best?
First, we need to determine what criteria an album must meet to be considered a masterpiece. Since this criteria will vary from person to person, we will look at a few different perspectives. For me, an album should be cohesive; there shouldn’t be a single song that feels out of place. I also think that variety in an album makes it stand out. I don’t want every song to sound the same, but they should all connect in some way, whether that be through storytelling or overarching themes.
For Olivia Dunham, a senior at Lanier, “…a good album is an album [where] all the songs fit together and tell the story that the artist wants to tell. Every single song on a good album sounds like it belongs on that album and adds to the album.”
Hope Dang, a junior at Lanier, has a different perspective on what makes an album special. According to her, “For me, what makes an album good is the lyrics…In addition, for an album to be good, the bridges in every song on an album must make me scream my lungs out.”
When looking at which Taylor Swift album is the best, we will consider the opinions of different students at Lanier as well as quantitative data, such as the number of streams and the number of awards won in relation to the album. We’ll begin with students’ opinions on the matter:
Personally, I am conflicted about which album I think is Swift’s best. My top two choices would have to be either Speak Now or Red (Taylor’s Version). I will explain my reasoning for each below:
Speak Now checks all the boxes: it’s relatable, it’s cohesive, and it covers a variety of feelings and experiences. This album alone covers heartbreak, the excitement of meeting someone new, the fear of growing up, standing up for yourself, and there’s even a song purely dedicated to her fans. Because of this variety, it is easy for anyone to relate to it, and I think it highlights just how flexible of an artist she is with songs like “Dear John,” “Mean,” “The Story of Us,” “Enchanted,” and “Haunted” all existing within the same album. Not to mention, Taylor wrote the entirety of this album by herself, showing her capabilities as a songwriter. The 2010 album demonstrates her fluidity as an artist within the realms of country-pop with bluegrass, power ballads, goth-rock, and more being merged into one cohesive album.
Red (Taylor’s Version) also shows off Swift’s skill as a musical artist. Everyone knows the original Red album with songs like “22,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which ruled the radio back in 2012 with its initial release. However, Red (Taylor’s Version) blows the original out of the water. The original album was already extremely relatable, but Swift’s vault tracks enhance the experience and tell a story. For example, we already knew that “The Moment I Knew” was about how Swift felt about her boyfriend at the time standing her up at her birthday party; however, in “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” we get to see more of the story leading up to her birthday, and it puts “The Moment I Knew” into a different light because of this. Additionally, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” brings more depth to “22” because it adds more weight to how she felt about the whole situation, which explains her excitement for turning 22 in “22.” Because the songs on Red (Taylor’s Version) are connected in such a way that each song brings more depth and a bigger meaning to another, it is one of her best albums. The additional vault tracks for this album really take this album home for me. Songs like “Nothing New” and “Forever Winter” contribute to the album by introducing topics like the fear of growing old and the strain mental health can put on relationships. Between the connectedness of the songs, the powerful messages behind the lyrics, and the enhancement of the original album, Red (Taylor’s Version) is a strong contender for being Swift’s best album in my opinion.
On the other hand, Olivia Dunham says, “I think folklore is her best album because Taylor Swift’s lyricism is out of this world on this album, and the production of every single song makes it all fit together, and it really makes listening to the album feel like watching a movie or something. She tells a great story throughout the album and her lyrics are so incredible as well.”
I definitely agree with Olivia that folklore is one of Swift’s best albums based on lyricism alone. The storytelling on this album is absolutely phenomenal, and Swift has managed to make yet another cohesive album.
Hope Dang, however, says, “I think reputation is one of her best albums because that was the era where she learned not to care about other haters’ opinions. Also, she ghosted everyone for three years and came back with this album that blew everyone’s mind.”
reputation is another one of Swift’s amazing albums. I would also argue that it is one of her most romantic albums because most of the album is dedicated to her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Hope’s approach differs from mine and Olivia’s by how she focused more on the era surrounding the release of the album, which definitely does make a difference on how impactful the album is whereas Olivia and I were more focused on the lyricism and cohesiveness of the album to determine which one was the best.
Now that we’ve seen the opinions of some students at Lanier, we’ll look at which of Swift’s albums received the most streams upon its release, which albums won the most awards, and which albums won the most prestigious awards.
Prior to November 12, 2021, folklore was the most-streamed album in a single day, having received 80.6 million streams upon its release in 2020. However, Red (Taylor’s Version) has since earned the title of most-streamed album in a single day, receiving 90.8 million streams upon its release, breaking the record folklore had previously set.
Swift’s talent certainly doesn’t go unnoticed, judging by her 935 award nominations and 435 total wins. Out of her nine studio albums, 1989, Fearless, Lover, and Red are her most awarded albums. 1989 has won a total of 44 awards, including awards won from the album’s singles: “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” “Style,” and “Bad Blood,” as well as Best Tour in 2016. Swift’s second studio album, Fearless, comes up next with 31 awards, also including awards won from touring and the album’s singles. Following Fearless, Lover and Red have each won 25 awards.
Out of Swift’s 435 award wins, 11 of these have been Grammys, 10 of which were awarded to Fearless, 1989, Speak Now, and folklore. Being the most prestigious music award, Swift’s 41 nominations and 11 wins is impressive. Fearless has received the most Grammy Awards, winning Album of the Year, Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “White Horse,” Best Country Song for “White Horse,” and Best Country Album. It should be noted that Swift did not submit Fearless (Taylor’s Version) for Grammy consideration because the original album was already extremely successful, being the most awarded country album of all time. Next comes 1989, which won Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood” in 2015. Speak Now received two Grammys: Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, both for “Mean.” Most recently, folklore received a Grammy in 2020 for Album of the Year.
Given the numbers, it’s clear that there is not one Taylor Swift album that is objectively the best, with Red (Taylor’s Version) receiving the most streams in one day, 1989 receiving the most awards, and Fearless receiving the most Grammys. Overall, I think part of the beauty of Taylor Swift’s music is that she does not have any one album that fans can universally agree is her best. Each album resonates differently depending on the person, and each album reflects Swift’s growth as an artist over time.

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